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Action Alert - Commonwealth Fishery      


Action Alert

Sydney, 20 October 2006
Stop the re-accreditation of destructive Commonwealth fishery

Act by 27 October 2006

AFMA has submitted to DEH a proposal for the re-accreditation of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) as a Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO). This is a requirement under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, by which AFMA must seek accreditation from Minister Campbell regarding the ecological sustainability of the fishery in order for its product to be exported.

There is a whole list of reasons why the SESSF should not be assessed as ecologically sustainable:

  • Several hundred seals are caught every year as bycatch in this fishery, with poor recording of data and ineffective use of any mitigation measures.
  • The fishery has inadequate mitigation measures to remove the potential for a serious seabird bycatch (of mostly albatross and petrels) in its demersal longline sector.
  • Orange roughy, one of its target species, has been nominated by HSI as endangered. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) has advised the Environment Minister that it is eligible for listing as endangered. Additional advice provided by the Department confirmed this (seven months later we are still waiting for the Minister's decision).
  • One population of orange roughy is still targeted in the SESSF. The AFMA Board have recommended its quota be increased from 700 tonnes in 2006 to 711 tonnes in 2007.
  • Eastern gemfish is another species nominated by HSI as endangered. It was recently provisionally listed as endangered in NSW, and consideration of our federal nomination has now been postponed for the fifth time.
  • Eastern gemfish is caught as bycatch in the SESSF, and the AFMA Board have recommended its Total Allowable Catch (TAC) be increased from 100 tonnes in 2006 to 135 tonnes in 2007.
  • Three species of dogfish (Harrisson's deepsea dogfish, Endeavour dogfish and Southern dogfish) have been nominated by DEH for threatened species protection.
  • HSI has nominated as a Key Threatening Process ' The removal and subsequent lack of fisheries refugia and an ineffective quota setting process resulting in extensive overfishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF)' . This nomination remains pending.
  • School shark is also overfished in the SESSF, and is the subject of another nomination for federal protection by HSI. This nomination like the others (except the KTP) is well overdue.

Once the government's Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill (2006) is passed, third parties will be unable to appeal the accreditation of a WTO. We therefore need to lobby hard to prevent this accreditation now.

A copy of the AFMA submission is available at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/commonwealth/scale-fish/submission.html.

The recommendations of the AFMA board regarding SESSF TAC allocations for 2007 can be found at: http://www.afma.gov.au/fisheries/sess/sess/notices/2006/TAC_recommendations_2006.pdf


Send your comments on AFMA's submission (incorporating the Board's recommended TAC's for 2007) to Rob Ferguson, Assistant Director, Sustainable Fisheries Section, Department of the Environment and Heritage, GPO Box 787, CANBERRA ACT 2601, or to sustainablefisheries@deh.gov.au. Send a copy to Senator Ian Campbell, Minister for Environment and Heritage, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 (senator.ian.campbell@aph.gov.au)

The deadline for submissions is 27th October 2006 (apologies for the short notice).

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